Chris Yee is, in his own words, “mostly an illustrator, sometimes an animator, and sometimes a graphics/textile designer”.
He’s active on Instagram as ‘Yee the East’ and his work is as likely to pop up on a brick wall mural as it is to be featured in a comic book.
The prolific illustrator took some time out of his day to tell us how he shapes a typical 24-hour period for maximum creativity and inspiration, as well as how he follows a project through right from the first stroke to printing out the final product.
Tell us about what you do creatively and how a typical work day may unfold for you?
“A typical work day starts with me waking up and immediately checking my phone and scrolling through my daily media news rolodex – comingsoon.net, Worldstarhiphop, CBR.com, allkpop and Instagram for the newest memes – to ease myself into my pop culture needs and overall day.
“Then I proceed to check my emails to see what’s new in my professional work and schedule the serious stuff.
“I start work at 10:30am and clock off from the studio around 6:30 pm. I then have dinner, a bit of a break or jog and begin working at 9pm again until roughly 2am. I really do everything throughout the week to make sure I have time for myself and to keep Friday night and Saturday free. Coffee is a must.”
What is the importance of printing and copying in your day to day work?
“Printing is extremely important, and will continue to be, when it comes to things like personal bodies of work, especially when work is created to be cherished or appreciated – such as art books, flag prints, T-shirt designs, screen prints, and so on. Print quality and a tangible texture can really affect the human experience with an artwork.”
What are some design principles that you adhere to and how do they influence your work across the variety of creative mediums you explore?
“I think the most important principle of design is composition. Trends in font, colour and scale seem to change every six months, although a good spatial arrangement and composition can last forever. In terms of my work, [skills] can help with getting a story or information across in a really digestible manner.”
Tell us about some of the indispensable tools you use to produce your work and any ‘secret’ tips for getting the most out of using them?
“My most important tool is probably my Pentel calligraphy brush pen and learning how to get comfortable in mastering it for drawing. The learning curve in pressure control is huge, but once you get used to it, it allows you to execute a wide spectrum of line weights without buying and carrying a whole set of pens.”
What trends have you noticed in your creative mediums that particularly interest or excite you?
“Illustrators have begun to teach themselves animation or video without relying on outsourcing. It can be creatively satisfying while also allowing to expand on the still image and create the exact story one would want to tell without compromise.
“Don’t be afraid to experiment or take chances to find your own visual language. The more work you output, especially in the beginning stages will help you consciously or subconsciously find your own creative voice and visual style.”